When it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they handed Paul and some other prisoners over to Julius, an officer in the Roman army regiment called “The Emperor’s Regiment.”
We went aboard a ship from Adramyttium, which was ready to leave for the seaports of the province of Asia, and we sailed away. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, was with us. The next day we arrived at Sidon. Julius was kind to Paul and allowed him to go and see his friends, to be given what he needed.
We went on from there, and because the winds were blowing against us, we sailed on the sheltered side of the island of Cyprus. We crossed over the sea off Cilicia and Pamphylia and came to Myra in Lycia. There the officer found a ship from Alexandria that was going to sail for Italy, so he put us aboard.
We sailed slowly for several days and with great difficulty finally arrived off the town of Cnidus. The wind would not let us go any farther in that direction, so we sailed down the sheltered side of the island of Crete, passing by Cape Salmone.We kept close to the coast and with great difficulty came to a place called Safe Harbors, not far from the town of Lesea.
We spent a long time there, until it became dangerous to continue the voyage, for by now the Day of Atonement was already past. So Paul gave them this advice: Men, I see that our voyage from here on will be dangerous; there will be great damage to the cargo and to the ship, and loss of life as well.” But the army officer was convinced by what the captain and the owner of the ship said, and not by what Paul said. The harbor was not a good one to spend the winter in; so most of the men were in favor of putting out to sea and trying to reach Phoenix, if possible, in order to spend the winter there. Phoenix is a harbor in Crete that faces southwest and northwest.
A soft wind from the south began to blow, and the men thought that they could carry out their plan, so they pulled up the anchor and sailed as close as possible along the coast of Crete. But soon a very strong wind—the one called “Northeaster”—blew down from the island.
It hit the ship, and since it was impossible to keep the ship headed into the wind, we gave up trying and let it be carried along by the wind. We got some shelter when we passed to the south of the little island of Cauda. There, with some difficulty we managed to make the ship’s boat secure.
They pulled it aboard and then fastened some ropes tight around the ship. They were afraid that they might run into the sandbanks off the coast of Libya, so they lowered the sail and let the ship be carried by the wind. The violent storm continued, so on the next day they began to throw some of the ship’s cargo overboard, and on the following day they threw part of the ship’s equipment overboard. For many days we could not see the sun or the stars, and the wind kept on blowing very hard. We finally gave up all hope of being saved.
After the men had gone a long time without food, Paul stood before them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have sailed from Crete; then we would have avoided all this damage and loss. But now I beg you, take courage! Not one of you will lose his life; only the ship will be lost. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship came to me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul! You must stand before the Emperor. And God in his goodness to you has spared the lives of all those who are sailing with you.’ So take courage, men! For I trust in God that it will be just as I was told. But we will be driven ashore on some island.”
It was the fourteenth night, and we were being driven in the Mediterranean by the storm. About midnight the sailors suspected that we were getting close to land. So they dropped a line with a weight tied to it and found that the water was one hundred and twenty feet deep; a little later they did the same and found that it was ninety feet deep. They were afraid that the ship would go on the rocks, so they lowered four anchors from the back of the ship and prayed for daylight. Then the sailors tired to escape from the ship; they lowered the boat into the water and pretended that they were going to put out some anchors from the front of the ship.
But Paul said to the army officer and soldiers, “If the sailors don’t stay on board, you have no hope of being saved.” So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the boat and let it go.
Just before dawn, Paul begged them all to eat some food: “You have been waiting for fourteen days now, and all this time you have not eaten a thing. I beg you, then, eat some food; you need it in order to survive. Not even a hair of your heads will be lost." After saying this, Paul took some bread, gave thanks to God before them all, broke it, and began to eat. They took courage, and every one of them also ate some food.
There was a total of 276 of us on board. After everyone had eaten enough, they lightened the ship by throwing all the wheat into the sea.
When day came, the sailors did not recognize the coast, but they noticed a bay with a beach and decided that, if possible, they would run the ship aground there. So they cut off the anchors and let them sink in the sea, and at the same time they untied the ropes that help the steering oars. Then they raised the sail at the front of the ship so that the wind would blow the ship forward, and we headed for shore. But the ship hit a sandbank and went aground; the front part of the ship got stuck and could not move, while the back part was being broken to pieces by the violence of the waves.
The soldiers made a plan to
kill all the prisoners, in order to keep them from swimming ashore and
escaping. But the army
officer wanted to save Paul, so he stopped them from doing this.
Instead, he ordered all the men who could swim to jump overboard
first and swim shore; the rest were to follow, holding on to the planks or
to some broken pieces of th ship. And this was how we all got safely